Viennese Modernism emerged against the backdrop of a multi-ethnic and multi-national empire that was increasingly imperiled both by internal strife and by external political and military pressures. The fractured state of the Habsburg Empire is mirrored in the forms and contents of the culture of Vienna around 1900. While the strength and cohesion of the empire were diminishing, ever richer visual, literary, philosophical, and scientific cultures were developing.
360˚: Vienna 1900 is an integrated two-credit seminar which is interdisciplinary in nature. Participants study works of art, architecture, design, literature, psychoanalysis, and pseudoscience. The seminar features critical discussions of visual culture, literary works, and psychoanalytic texts by artists and writers such as Freud, Hofmannsthal, Hoffmann, Klimt, Kokoschka, Loos, Musil, Schiele, Schnitzler, Wagner, and Weininger.
The version of 360˚: Vienna 1900 taught in the spring of 2011 included archival work, web-based group research projects and a trip to New York museums to see original examples of art and design produced in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century. It also gave students the unique and exciting opportunity to conduct field research in the city of Vienna itself over spring break. Packed into the week were visits to numerous important museums and galleries, architectural sites, the Freud Museum, the opera, and the theater. Three time blocks were set aside to give students an opportunity to conduct research for their group projects, which focus on topics as diverse as art, music, architecture, theater, the new human sciences, fashion, and coffeehouse culture.